In the Key of West

In the Key of West Choreographed

Mary Luft, Video and Music by Bill Seaman , Miami, Key West, NYC 1985/86

The New York Times Article

MARY LUFT, a choreographer from Florida, brought a terpsichorean travelogue to the Bessie Schonberg Theater on Monday night. ''In the Key of West, II'' was a mixed-media portrait of Key West with choreography by Miss Luft, taped music and video by Bill Seaman and designs by Dina Knapp. Slides were projected of street scenes in Key West. Other landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes appeared on a row of television screens. Dancers pretended to be sailors, tourists and Key West natives. They had a carnival parade, slapped at bugs, went sunbathing in the daytime and drank and brawled at night. Barbara Frankfurt was amusing as a bossy tour guide. So was Jose Garcia, who fussed about as a character the program called the ''maitre d' '' and made fumbling attempts at baton twirling. Spiced tea was served to dancegoers in the first row of the theater, and tangellos, bananas and papayas were sold in the lobby during the intermission. Early in the work, a recorded voice quoted a Mrs. L. P. Whitson, who in 1886 declared, ''Key West is intensely unlike any other place in the Union.'' Since that statement also turned up in the program notes, one suspected that Miss Luft was trying to show what, in her opinion, made Key West special. That she did not quite do. Her sailors drilled. But, surely, military personnel do that everywhere. Similarly, Miss Luft never really demonstrated how a Key West carnival differs from one in, say, New Orleans, or how barroom fights there differ from fights in towns from coast to coast.

Nevertheless, she did include at least one sly example of social commentary. Throughout the entire work, a performer stationed in the audience murmured in Spanish. Yet the other performers, who spoke English when they spoke at all, paid no attention to him. In Key West, Miss Luft implied, one culture ignores another. For the most part, however, this was a good-natured piece that made Key West seem an amiable, but not necessarily memorable, place.

A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 26, 1986, Section C, Page 22 of the National edition with the headline: THE DANCE: MARY LUFT, 'IN THE KEY OF WEST, II'.